Magazine Club: The Believer

by Steve Watson in March 2023
Literature

McSweeney’s launched The Believer in 2003, way before I even realised there was such a thing as independent magazines, which means that in my experience at least, it has sort of always been there. I’m not sure when I first picked up a copy, but over the years I’ve read The Believer many times and always loved it, and it has remained remarkably consistent while editorial teams have changed and it has been published by different organisations.

That was until the last couple of years, when The Believer hit a difficult patch and ended up in the hands of a sex toy website, so I was excited to see the announcement last year that the magazine was going to be published by McSweeney’s once again, and even more excited when we arranged to send that homecoming issue out as our January delivery to Stack subscribers.

Deputy editor Rita Bullwinkel spoke to us for our Stack Magazine Club last week, and it was brilliant to hear her behind-the-scenes account of the work that went into making the homecoming a success. The phrase, “everyone grab an oar” was used several times, and of course I wasn’t really surprised to hear how this was a “scappy” effort with everybody pitching in, but it also wasn’t exactly what I’d expected. From the outside it’s easy to imagine that the team are all hanging out with their cool, literary and celebrity friends, pulling in favours to put the magazine together, but Rita’s version sounds much more like the experience of independent publishing I’m familiar with. (Basically, you can approach your heroes and ask them to do something interesting and there’s a chance they might say yes.)

It was great speaking with her about the making of the magazine, and I hope her insights help you to get a fresh perspective on the stories in the issue. And if you haven’t seen it yet, that means you’re not in our magazine club, so head over to our subscribe page and we’ll start delivering our surprise reading to you from just £8 per month, and you can join your fellow subscribers for our next Magazine Club conversation.

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